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December 15, 2008

Experts recommend the events industry to buy, buy, buy!

Leading figures in the finance and economic sectors recently urged the meetings and events industry to buy themselves out of recession next year.

Speaking at this year’s Association of Event Organisers (AEO) Conference in Brighton, Deloitte corporate finance director Stuart Sparkes advised the industry to be brave and acquire businesses in the second half of 2009, “because good companies will be available at cheap prices”.

Sparkes was joined at the debate by Grant Thornton partner Dominic Bolton and economist turned strategist Roger Martin-Fagg, in a session chaired by former BBC News anchor Martyn Lewis.

Sparkes’ advice to acquire was reinforced in a later session when Clarion Events chief executive Simon Kimble revealed his company currently had three acquisitions in the pipeline worth £50 milllion.

During the discussion, Kimble was joined by the AEO’s current chair Philip Soar and past president of the global organisers group UFI Sandy Angus. Unsurprisingly, strategic insight centred on how the events industry can tackle the recession in the forthcoming year, but while Angus focused on delivering value, working with venues and suppliers, as well as building confidence and trust with customers, Soar highlighted the opportunities that will be available to small, aggressive companies when bigger companies and competitors discard viable event properties.

The recently reported acquisition of news that online marketing agency JUXT Interactive and mobile device platform MobilePromote had been acquired by AEO member, experience marketing agency George P Johnson (GPJ), underlines these insights.

Explaining the thinking behind the move, Kim Myhre, vice president and general manager, George P Johnson, EMEA, said: "Companies looking to clearly differentiate their brands and truly engage with customers are seeking a new generation of experience marketing approaches. These investments by GPJ represent an evolution in brand marketing that we strongly believe in, where integrated online and live experiences serve as the centrepiece to marketing campaigns that deliver measurable business results."

The acquisitions are set to support GPJ OnLIVE, the company's new digitally infused service.

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